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US: Democratic Senator Slammed for Testy Exchange with Students

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) speaks with reporters ahead of the party luncheons on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., Sep. 19, 2017.

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) speaks with reporters ahead of the party luncheons on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., Sep. 19, 2017. | Photo: REUTERS

Published 23 February 2019
Opinion

Senator Dianne Feinstein is shown in a video with students who hoped to get her to sign onto the Green New Deal. 

A controversial video has emerged of a United States Senator apparently talking down to students who visited her to ask for her vote for the Green New Deal proposal.

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United States Senator Dianne Feinstein from California received a visit by group of schoolchildren and spoke with them about the Green New Deal proposal being introduced by freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts.

In the video, uploaded by the Sunrise Movement, a grassroots organization pushing for immediate and bold action on climate change, the senator is confronted and challenged by the students and the teachers:

In the testy exchange, the younger students in the group stressed how they would be the ones who would be most affected by climate change and that time was of the essence, with one student saying “Scientists have said we only have 12 years to act,” a concern which Feinstein deflects by saying that she has 7 grandchildren.

Feinstein then lectures the children on the process of lawmaking, saying she’s been in office for 30 years, and knows what she’s doing. She also chastises the group by saying that they are approaching her in ways she doesn’t like, saying, “I don’t respond” to this kind of appeal.

In another part of the video, she reduces her responsibility to her constituents after a 16-year-old girls says, “we voted for you, and you should listen to us.” Upon finding out the girl was 16, Feinstein says, “You didn’t vote for me.”

The video had been edited to show the most controversial parts, with the full video showing other exchanges that were more friendly. In the non-published parts, she talks about her introducing her own “responsible” version of the Green New Deal, which has been largely panned by critics who say it’s completely tone deaf to the breadth of the problem.

Other commentators have said that the video makes it clear how difficult it will be to get establishment Democrats — Feinstein has been in office for 30 years — to sign onto bold legislation that many activists believe is required to combat climate change. Feinstein has also been accused of breaking her pledge to not take money from oil companies, which further complicates her relationship to the landmark climate change legislation being proposed.

Climate scientists agree that we are currently living out the negative effects of global climate change, including suffering billions in damage and lost productivity, and that time is running out to act before permanent, irreversible damage is done.

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